World-first carbon fibre-reinforced building

A building made of carbon fibre-reinforced concrete has been built in Germany, using less concrete, carrying a higher load and offering conductivity.

The Cube is a 432 square metre building constructed of concrete reinforced with carbon fibre instead of steel as a test for the new material at the Technical University of Dresden in collaboration with German architects Henn. Apart from being rust-proof, the carbon fibre-reinforcement also requires less concrete to cover it according to Giovanni Betti, Head of sustainability at Henn.

“”Carbon fibre is four times lighter and six times stronger than steel and is not subject to corrosion. This means that the reinforcement does not have to be encapsulated in as much concrete to protect it from water and a same-sized section will be able to carry a higher load,” he told Dezeen.

“Components and structures can be designed thinner, with material savings of 50% or more. This can reduce CO₂ emissions and the consumption of other valuable resources, like water and sand.”

Conductivity is another feature of The Cube, thanks to the carbon fibre in which running a light current through it can generate heat, according to Giovanni Betti, and used to monitor structural integrity. The building’s concrete walls are equipped with heating elements, insulation pads, and interactive touch surfaces.

Two methods of fabrication were used in the building. The twisted façade was made using shotcrete sprayed onto carbon fibre sheets overlaid on a plywood formwork while the grey box structure was built using prefabricated concrete panels containing layers of carbon sheets.

Image: Stefan Mueller

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is the Editor of Concrete in Australia and at the helm of our magazine for 8 years. She was behind the Institute's weekly news bulletins from 2016-2021 and is now writing our focused news items. Desi has been an engineering news and features journalist/editor across all disciplines since 2013 - part of a 30-year career writing for a wide range of industries.